Employers who rely on the expertise of foreign scientists, engineers and nurses would be wise to review the processes they use to recruit and pay employees under H-1B visas. The EEOC has taken a keen interest in whether promises made to induce foreign talent into the United States are being honored. And more visa holders are hiring lawyers and suing for broken promises.
To add fuel to the fire, the Government Accountability Office just issued a report saying some H-1B visa holders are being underpaid.
Recent case: The EEOC sued Technocrest Systems, alleging six H-1B visa employees from the Philippines were paid less than the minimum wage and worked under conditions less favorable than they had been promised. The company refused to turn over the employees' personnel files, but a federal court ordered them opened so the EEOC can look for a pattern of discrimination. (EEOC v. Technocrest Systems, No. 05-3322, 8th Cir., 2006)
Tip: Users of H-1B visas also must be sensitive to reverse-discrimination claims by U.S. employees who argue that cheap immigrant labor is being favored over American applicants. U.S.-based trade groups such as the Programmers' Guild have filed more than 300. They claim some employers even post job openings expressing preference for H-1B visa applicants.